Five Essential Framing Tips Every Photographer Should Know
Five Essential Framing Tips Every Photographer Should Know
Five Essential Framing Tips Every Photographer Should Know

Framing: How to do it

Framing an image is, at first glance, easy. But there’s so much more to it then meets the eye.

Here, I’ll share with you a few easy techniques to apply: the “rule of thirds,” “leading lines,” and others. Great photographers do this intuitively. They don’t have to think about it. Some are even born with it.

After a little while, you won’t have to think about it either. You’ll apply these principles automatically.


Downtown Springfield, Nov. 14, 2015.

1. The rule of thirds

Split the viewfinder into thirds, both up and down. Most cameras have lines where these points are. The cross points where the lines meet are key areas where the human eye is instinctively drawn.

Put your subject there.

If it’s a landscape, let the horizon fall horizontally. Or, if your subject is a person, line them up in the top third.

Joseph. 2012.2. Give your subject space

When photographing a runner, frame the image so they’re running into negative space. More precisely, if someone is running left to right, frame them on the left side. The same can be said for where someone is looking. If to the left, they should be on the right.

And so on.

Of course, rules are meant to be broken. Having a subject run toward the short end of the frame can be jarring for the viewer. It tells a different story. And if that’s the story you intentionally want to tell, it’ll be a strong image.

Dingle 3. Leading lines

Use lines to lead the viewers eye into the photo, to where you eventually want them to stop. Think of train tracks. When looking off into the horizon, the two tracks converge into one single point. That’s where your eye is drawn.

This principal is affective in any image. But when not paid attention to, lines can be extremely distractive and ruin an otherwise good image. So keep an eye on lines. Use them to your advantage.

Water Main Break

DPW crew members work to fix a water main break in Greenfield on Silver Street around 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 8, 2016.

4. Focal point

Most cameras, including those on cell phones, allow different points in a scene to be focused on. This can be another great way to draw a viewer into an image. When framing a scene, consider putting objects into the foreground, out of focus, to block in otherwise negative space.

This principle is particularly useful with landscapes. Think about the most beautiful sunset you’ve ever seen. On its own, the sky is breathtaking. But in a photograph, the image isn’t that spectacular. That’s because there’s not much to it: a sky, horizon line, ground.

To break this monotony up, crouch down to a rock and frame that within the foreground. Or silhouette a palm tree against the sun.

Racism protest

UMass students gather to protest against racism in front of the Student Union on December 1, 2014, in response to the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri.

5. Have your subjects interact

Images are more interesting when there’s something going on in them. Wait for moments of interaction. A mother looking at her child. Or a paperboy reading the daily headlines, while the homeowner looks on in a bathrobe.

Use focus to highlight this. Catch one subject, out of focus, looking at an object or person, the focal point. That will draw the viewer quickly into the image and cause them to try to figure out what’s going on.

Catch interaction and your photography will become interesting.

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